From safari to shimmy: the Dora Princess makeover



We love Dora in this house. She tromps through the jungle, solves puzzles, outwits trolls, evades bears, captains a pirate ship, creates maps, travels the world, rescues animals, discovers volcanoes, plays soccer, climbs mountains, and crosses crocodile-infested waters. Best of all, she’s a girl of colour doing all these things, in a world packed with buff-white-guy superheroes and glittering submissive fairy princesses. Dora’s a Hoyden from way back.

And, as Red No. 3 notes, Dora looks like an ordinary kid. She is kid-sized, kid-shaped, and growing a bit too fast for her shirt to keep up.

So what has the merchandising machine done to her now? Were they satisfied with hauling her out of the jungle and saddling her with a vomitously twee Talking Kitchen and Vanity Unit?


No. They have pinned Dora down and given her the Disney Princess makeover. Her effigies are now distinguished by their skinniness, fashion sense, sparkles, dancing, and “beautiful “comb-able” hair”. Previously an action hero, Dora is now an object to be gawked at and manipulated. Her only post-Barbification functions are to preen and cook and pose and twirl and shimmy and sing, to be beautiful and passive and feminine. A sampling:

Coral Dora Doll


Starshine Dora


Magic Hair Fairytale Princess Dora


Rainbow Sparkle Dora


Beach Fiesta Dora


Sparkle & Twirl Mermaid Dora


When girls place Dora into her magic seashell, Dora sings as she spins around and raises her arms as her skirt grows into a mermaid’s tail. At the end of the transformation, Dora will shimmy back and forth during the remainder of the song.

Fairy Wishes Dora


Fairy Wishes Dora is a magical doll that little girls will love! Girls simply touch the special magic wand to Dora’s star necklace, and Dora will magically come to life! Dora will blink her eyes, smile, look surprised, sing, and make wishes with little girls! She even sings the Wishing Fairy song! Fairy Wishes Dora is dressed in her beautiful fairy dress, sparkly wings, and tiara.

So – I guess Cousin Diego’s going to be taking over the adventuring and animal-rescuing business from now on. Farewell, Hoyden Dora. It was great while it lasted.


Categories: culture wars, gender & feminism

Tags: , , , , ,

36 replies

  1. wow. this makes me really, really sad.
    it’s like a microcosm of what happens to so many girls growing up under patriarchy . . . they start out all adventurous and creative until they’re forced to trade in those characteristics for a lifetime of trying to live up to the impossible ideal of femininity. “reviving ophelia” much?
    reminds me of a two-year-old girl i just saw in the clinic just prior to halloween . . . her mother told me that she had wanted to dress up as a pirate, but then someone had given her a princess toy and now all she wanted to be was a princess.
    pirate to princess, just like dora. so sad. 😦

  2. Noooooo! What the hell?
    My kids have outgrown Dora quite some time ago now, but I always thought she was great. How could the show’s creators let some merchandiser totally undermine the message of the show like this?

  3. I agree that it is really sad, because I always liked Dora, even though I am far too old and childless.
    To the mothers out there I say DON’T DESPAIR! I played with Barbie dolls my entire life and I’ve turned out to be a feminist of the most radical kind!

  4. Wow, those “new” Dora dolls are creepy, in a Bratz sort of way. Eeek.

  5. Please tell me this is a sick joke! That doesn’t even look like Dora. Aren’t kids going to be upset by that?–they notice those things. I also wonder if they are marketing to boys at all (what would that be–Dora trucks? Dora f-ing guns??)–clearly they don’t see Dora as a cool CHILD that both boys and girls can enjoy. Dora would be pissed seeing those skinny hair-styled dolls, don’t you think?

  6. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
    I had one cheap, commercial, accessible female character merchandise brand that my daughter could buy into without risking her self-esteem and now we have none. Not fair. The sexist world has everything, why couldn’t we just have Dora? Kids love recognising characters on their merchandise, they love being part of what everyone else is part of, and relatives and friends love having readily available, inexpensive merchandise to buy for birthdays that they know your kid will be thrilled by… we needed Dora.

  7. I never came across Dora – must have had my daughter at the wrong time, although we love Angelica(?) that very tuff Canadian schoolgirl who is always doing battle with the blonde ballerina type, and Daria the dry-as-dust teenager.
    Those of you who love Dora should use the internetz to orchestrate an emailing campaign to the originators.
    I can’t say that even those dolls are as bad as Bratz, though. Bratz are the pits.

  8. Oh yes, Angela Anaconda. If she’s not on TV where you are, rush out and buy a DVD from the ABC shop, STAT. as the murrikins say.

  9. Helen, I adore Daria. I don’t find her on as often these days – where are you finding her?
    * she’s too much of a cynical slacker to be a hoyden, but hoydenism isn’t everything.

  10. Arguh! This makes me so mad! I would love to find out just what went into the decision to change Dora. I can’t imagine that her creator would approve of it — although she probable doesn’t have any control over it. We don’t watch Dora here (we don’t get cable stations) but we do have a video. Don’t tell me they’ve altered her appearance on television, too?

  11. even my 12 year old boy likes dora and diego! He watches it with his little brother and loves the spanish that he learns, identifies with her as a person, a kid, not a girl.
    this is heartbreaking, watching cartoons with him over the years I am enraged at how all the heros are boys, the girls might have some power but it’s always cute and talking about shoes and the constant message is that girls aren’t quite as good. Be sure to be cute so people will accept you in your secondary status.
    GAH!!!! How do you raise kids not to be sucked into these gender messages?
    (I personally point them out constantly as we sit and watch. He lets me know when he finds a cartoon he things I’ll like:) )

  12. You might like this graphic, inspired by this post.

  13. What a damn shame. Who the hell is the crew who made these decisions?

  14. Lets find out who did this and blast them with emails….

  15. This makes me sad…for my boyfriend’s niece’s third birthday, we got her some Dora magnetic paper dolls and a Dora sprinkler attachment–and I’m thinking, “It’s okay that it’s all pink and stuff. She can still be a positive role model for the toddler set since she’s all active and curious and stuff.” And I thought it was cool how this kid (and probably lots of kids) learned how to count in Spanish from watching Dora. Not every female ‘character’ needs to be sexualized and prettified. Especially if they’re geared towards three-year-olds.

    *breaks down weeping*
    What the – why the – WHY!?!?!?!?!?

  17. WHOA. It’s that kitchen that is most calling my daughter’s name, but I have some substitute plans in motion that I think will work. We have not seen those skinnified Doras here yet!

  18. This makes me really sick.

    What was so unmarketable about a pirate dora doll?

  19. My note to Nick Jr (via their website link in the post –
    How in the world did you let Dora become princess-ified? That was a terrible decision and will cause our family to stop supporting Dora merchandise immediately. Dora was a good spunky role model for girls and boys and now is an object to be combed and petted. GROSS!
    I recommend you all do the same.

  20. Tigtog, I haven’t seen Daria for ages either – I’m always meaning to drop into JB Hi Fi and buy a DVD. (and one day, I may actually remember to do it!)

  21. I was just having a conversation with my daughter about Daria yesterday! She was talking about how the “popular” girls in her class are annoyingly affected (they all screamed recreationally during the thunderclaps yesterday) and how one is mildly bullying her verbally*, and I suggested we find some Daria for her to watch to get a different perspective on the girls who are all about being “popular”.
    * I was going to add the details in comments, but it was too much of a derail. Post coming up.

  22. Great. Now she looks like an alien in bargain-basement hkr clths. Can’t girls have anything of quality? Even girl’s clothes are made out of cheapie fabric – way more than the boys’ (compare in Target – the boy’s tshirts are thicker and higher quality -AND CHEAPER! how does that work?)
    And now boys are going to stay away from Dora because they’ve made her so lame!
    Only trash and mind-rot for our women of the future! Huzzah!

  23. I personally am in full support of this. For all anyone knows she could be coming with new lessons to teach our children like how to love the way you are or something. Parents are to protective over letting their children see something they haven’t even seen. We have only seen an outline of her. I am in full support of this. I think it’s crazy parents are judging and saing “I’m not going to buy any more of your merchandise if you do this!” Well what are you going to do if your child asks you at a store “Mommy can I get a Dora doll?” what are you going to say “no, Dora’s a whore?” I think kids can learn that everyone, even Dora, grows up. You can not say she’s to sexy or a hooker or a tramp when you have NOT seen her except for an outline.

  24. You didn’t actually read the post, did you, “my name”?

  25. Plus, you can’t even read the dateline on a post, can you, “my name”?

  26. I personally am in full support of this. For all anyone knows she could be coming with new lessons to teach our children like how to love the way you are or something
    Bwahahahahaha! YEAH, if you happen to be a CHILD with a bizarrely long skinny body and a gigantic head, they could teach you to stop playing sports and having adventures, to smile in a particularly vacuous way, wear clothes you can’t run amok in, and sex it on up (cos that’s what all kids should be doing!!?) and thereby teach children to “love the way you are”…*or something*. Or something indeed!
    And whore??? WHORE??? Who said ANYTHING about whore?

  27. They could also teach you that girls have backpacks with useful stuff in them while boys like Diego have rescue packs and come to the rescue cause girls obviously are too busy being sexed up to actually be of any use to someone.

  28. So what do you think about the new tween Dora?


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